Santa Monica and Venice Beach
We mostly managed to sleep through our first night in the US – eventually got up after 9am (much later than we had originally planned).
It had been raining heavily overnight – and was still raining quite hard when I first awoke … not really the sunny California weather we’d been hoping for !
The plan for today had been to get up reasonably early and head over to the Warner Bros studios for one of their VIP tours. We called them yesterday to see if we could make a reservation, and the recorded message that played was that we could only reserve the early morning tours – not those later in the day. So we got up, drove down the road to a supermarket, did a little grocery shopping (including some Starbucks for breakfast), and then followed the Neverlost navigator to Burbank – our first experience of Los Angeles Freeways (a little daunting !).
After only a couple of wrong turns (the Neverlost recalculates the route for you if you miss a turn) – we eventually made it to the Warner Bros studios, only to be told at the gate that the tours were all booked out, as were all the tours for Saturday. We were annoyed that the message on the phone was too vague and didn’t say that the reason we could only reserve the earlier tours was that all of the later tours were booked out !
We decided that we would try again on our last day in the US before we fly back home – we have a full day in Los Angeles before flying home late that night. This time we will make sure we book in advance too !!
Anyway, we did get to do a nice drive – and the sun came out, so it looked like turning into a resonable day anyway. We decided to do some of the stuff we didn’t get a chance to do the day before – which started with dropping the car back to the hotel and then walking down to the beach. We proceeded along the beachfront towards Venice Beach, enjoying the atmosphere along this famous beach walk. Despite the chilly wind, there were many people out walking, riding, rollerblading, taking their dogs for walks, throwing a football around, shooting hoops, and so on. Quite an interesting area – and full of “alternative lifestyle” people, which made for a diverse atmosphere.
The walk took well over an hour, and we stopped for a late lunch near the Venice Beach Pier before walking back up to Santa Monica. We paused for a short while to watch the sun set over Santa Monica Beach before heading back up to our room to clean up and have a rest.
We decided to head over to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica for dinner to see what was happening – quite a few people out for dinner, with a lot of the restaurants booked out for private new year’s eve parties. We finally settled on a little bistro and sat outside (under a nice warm heater) and enjoyed watching the world pass by.
After dinner, we walked down to the Santa Monica Pier, where we wandered amongst the revellers and through the entertainment arcades for a while, before heading back up to the hotel. We were originally going to hang around until midnight, but we were tired and cold, so decided we would just head home. At midnight we stepped out onto the balcony of our hotel room to see the fireworks, but were very disappointed – one or two shells and that was it ! It seems we have been spoiled by Sydney’s annual fireworks spectacular. I’m sure there were more impressive fireworks shows elsewhere in Los Angeles – at least I hope there were !
So, what had started as a wet and miserable day (apparently LA has had over half it’s average annual rainfall in December alone !!), turned out to be a pleasant and sunny day (although still a little chilly) – and we enjoyed out time outdoors seeing the sights of the LA beach scene.
You can see more photos in the gallery: Santa Monica